Melanie Kambhampati is a mother and visual artist building her work around the body and femininity.
Whitesboro, New York / United States
Melanie was born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania in 2007 with a degree in Studio Art. While working as the gallery assistant at the Baum School of Art in Allentown, she decided to try her hand in a different career. She became a Registered Nurse in 2011 and worked as an ER nurse in Pennsylvania and New York State. As a new stay at home mother, she has rediscovered her daily practice and love of painting while living in Upstate New York. Her work has recently been published in Candyfloss Magazine and Pikchur Magazine.
"My work is an exploration of illness, and the time afterward, a time of healing juxtaposed with anxiety. My recent experiences as a mother have led me to meditate on motherhood, femininity, and disease. In the last few years, I have experienced the growth of a child as well as the growth of multiple uterine fibroids, new life surrounded by the invasion of the aggressive and strange tissue. I use materials associated with a history in craft, decoration, and home insulation. These pieces began as a way of merging the visceral with ornamentation but developed to be more about the body and how it can still be seen as feminine while made faulty by disease. My past experiences as a patient, as well as my role as a registered nurse, inform my practice.
Some work starts on the floor, where I apply insulation foam or thermoplastics to wood paneling. The insulation foam is very malleable when wet, temperamental but expands as it dries. Its growth symbolizes the control we reach for but never fully achieve when it comes to treating the body. Additional mediums are then chosen based on the mood of the piece ranging from glass beading, cut paper, crystals, glitter, gold leafing, and frames. Embroidery work begins as a rough sketch then evolves in the process itself. The action of embroidering is very time-consuming which creates a meditative state. This meditation produces multiple changes to the design and generates a more focused theme. My other mixed media pieces include resin which requires a multiple day process in order for the resin to be fully cured after multiple pouring sessions. All these mediums require time between steps therefore forcing me to step away. I always work on multiple projects at once in order to continue production between stages."
"I was always interested in drawing, crafting, embroidery, and the body for as long as I can remember. This pushed me to major in art in college which became a B.F.A. in Studio Art with a concentration in Painting. But after college, I became frustrated with little money and no solid career path. So, like any sensible person I went to nursing school and became a Registered Nurse.
Then I met my husband, got married, and had a baby all while working as an RN. I continued to create through all these years but never on a regular basis. Working as a nurse drained me emotionally and mentally so much so that I barely even sketched anymore. But once my son was born I stayed home with him and found I had all these ideas and no outlet so I decided to learn how to use watercolor paint. Watercolors require little space and can be completed in steps, aka between nap times.
I’ve always known that one medium never satisfied my tactile side so watercolors quickly turned into acrylics with embellishments and then my love of insulation foam came back into play. More recently, I have been learning to embroider with beads and sequins all while my son sleeps. These minute pieces of time actually propel me into creation. I have no idea what I used to do with all my free time but I can accomplish so much more now in these short segments."